Purple Rain project managed Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend between December 2015 and September 2018.
The initiative, which takes place annually in June, seeks to get members of the public onto working farms to have a greater appreciation of where their food comes from. A range of farms take part from all across Northern Ireland showcasing the various sectors including dairy, beef, cereal, poultry and fruit farming. Running since 2012, the free event has become popular with families and has a strong following on Facebook.
Schools are also invited to visit the farms so children can learn outside of the traditional classroom how food is produced as the farmers teach them about modern farming practices. Teachers have found the visits informative and a great day out for their pupils.
Project management involved farm recruitment, farmer training, farm signage, publicity, social media management, sponsorship liaison, schools programme management, budget planning and evaluating visitor feedback. The event is run by a steering group made up of different food and farming industry representatives that meets regularly to discuss and confirm activity and plans.
Bank of Ireland Open Farm Weekend is delivered by the Ulster Farmers’ Union and is principally sponsored by Bank of Ireland UK and supported by The Prince’s Countryside Fund, NFU Mutual, and Asda. The weekend would not be possible without the help and resources of Young Farmers’ Clubs of Ulster, CAFRE, DEARA, the Northern Ireland Food and Drink Association, Food NI and the Northern Ireland Regional Food Programme.
The event won Best Food/Drink Promotion by a festival/event at the 2016 GrowMakeEatDrink Awards run by the News Letter and Johnson Press. It was also shortlisted in the Belfast Telegraph Year of Food and Drink Awards held at the Culloden Hotel in February 2017.